Donglin Monastery is the birthplace of the Pure Land School of Chinese Buddhism. It is located behind Mount Lu, facing Xianglu Peak to the South, at the foot of Donglin Hill, which is one of the outer ring hills of Mount Lu. The Tiger stream (Huxi) runs in front of the Monastery, and the bridge over the Tiger leads the way to the monastery gate. The area is clothed with old trees and luxuriant vegetation and with Buddhist chanting fills the air. It is the most graceful place in Mount Lu, the pure land in our Saha world.
A Brief Introduction to Donglin Monastery
Donglin Monastery is located on the Southern bank of the Yangtze River, Northwest of Lu Mountain. It faces Incense Burner Peak (Xianglu Feng), Heaven and Earth Peak (Tiandi Feng) to the South, and leans against the Watershed Peak (Fenshui Ling) with Shangfang Pagoda to the North. Fragrance Valley (Xiang Gu) lies to the Northwest of the monastery, and Black Dragon Pond (Wulong Tan) to the Southeast. The land in front of the Monastery is wide and flat, and winds from Incense Burner Peak carry the memory of a thousand years of smoke, as if kneeling to the monastery. Tiger Stream, flowing for centuries, is sentimentally attached to the monastery. The great calligrapher Liu Gongquan wrote of “the temple circled by streams” in the Tang Dynasty. The original construction of the monastery is magnificent; the geographical layout follows the theory of Yin and Yang. Being there, you feel refreshed, completely relaxed, and joyful.
Donglin Monastery was built in the 11th year of Taiyuan during the East Jin Dynasty (386 CE). It is the birthplace of the Chinese Pure Land School of Buddhism, the centre of Buddhist learning in Southern China, and one of the eight most influential Buddhist temples since the Sui Dynasty. According to history, numerous high monks, famous poets, emperors, and ministers were connected to the monastery. The temple houses many cultural relics, from the Sutra Translation Platform in East Jin Dynasty to Liang Qichao’s Remaining Stone Tablet of Liu Gongquan from the Qing Dynasty. Behind every piece of relic lies a historical event or a story that influenced traditional Chinese culture deeply.
Since its establishment over 1,600 years ago, the monastery has gone through numerous changes, construction, destruction, and reconstruction.